Walking around inside the Jokhang, one get’s the sense that it’s a very old place, made special by all of the years that it’s seen. It’s filled with statues of Buddhist figures, the light of butter lamps and the movement of pilgrims walking through its ancient corridors. Sadly, photography was not permitted inside, as I recall (and I’d have needed a tripod, anyway, which I didn’t have with me), so I had to limit my photography to the temple’s outdoor areas.
Fortunately, there is a lot going on outside, with monks and pilgrims studying and walking about, and there was a lecture going on when I was there, too, which helped me to get some interesting images, I believe.
In other news, Ivory Flame left my abode on Friday morning to move to some hotels in Manhattan for the remainder of her visit to New York. Things did not exactly go as planned with that: the car I ordered from car service showed up half an hour late; it took us at least half an hour to get through the Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel to Manhattan (rather than the normal five minutes or so); and, we were stopped not once but twice by the police!
I ended up accompanying Ivory to Manhattan, though that was not part of the plan. The car was to pick her up and I would take the subway train to work as I normally do. With the car so late and my not wanting to leave her waiting by herself, there was no way I could catch a train that would get me to work on time. The driver said he could get me to lower Manhattan (where I work) on time, so off the two of us went.
Things were going reasonably well, despite some backed up traffic, until we got to the Battery Tunnel toll plaza. We had made good time by riding in the HOV (High Occupancy Vehicle) lane, but that lane requires the car to have an E-Z Pass to pay the toll electronically. Our car and driver didn’t have one, so a cop pulled him over. After several minutes, the cop let the driver go with a warning, but we had to exit the toll plaza.
We got back a few minutes later and went through the cash toll lane, but the traffic into the tunnel was a real bottleneck. For some reason the left lane in the tunnel, once we got in, was moving pretty fast. Unfortunately, we were in the right lane, which seemed to move at a snail’s pace! Eventually, about half an hour later, I figure, we made it to the other side of the tunnel – which is when we were pulled over by the police yet again. Why?
In the tunnel, I had mentioned to Ivory how the patterns of lights in the tunnel looked interesting as they swirled about impressionistically on the tunnel ceiling. Maybe she had noticed them herself, too. So, she asked the driver to roll down her window, she stuck her little digital camera out and took a few snaps.
Doing that, unfortunately, is a no-no ever since 9/11, so the cops must have seen it or it was reported by someone, and they pulled us over. Ivory showed them her passport and explained that they were just some artsy tourist snaps, and ended up deleting them from her camera. No serious harm was done, but it was yet another strange thing happening on a strange morning. I finally got to work an hour late – though if I’d taken the train after all it probably would have been no more than ten minutes!
The baseball season ended for me yesterday. To quote Yogi Berra, it was “déjà vu all over again.” Last year, the Mets went into the final weekend of the season with a chance to make the playoffs if they won both games. In the penultimate game, they got a sterling pitching performance from their starting pitcher, John Maine (who nearly pitched a no-hitter,) to win the game, but they ended up blowing the final game and missed the playoffs. This was all after they had blown a seven game lead in the standings.
This year, they’d blown a three game lead in the standings but still had a chance to make the post-season by winning. As happened last year, their starter turned in a gem in the second-to-last game, with Johan Santana delivering a three-hitter on short rest – but as also happened last year, they couldn’t put it together to win the last game and once again came up short.
The baseball season is 162 games and six months long, and to lose out this way yet again is like trying to add up 162 numbers on a calculator for something important and when you’re about to finish up that last number, you make a mistake and need to go back to the beginning to start adding them up all over again. The difference with baseball is that you have to wait six months to start again.
Yesterday’s game was also the final game to ever be played at the Mets’ home, Shea Stadium, which will be replaced next year by a new stadium. There was a ceremony following the game that I watched, with a lot of old players invited back to walk on the field one last time. It was nice to see these players again, many of whom I grew up with as a Mets fan, but then I saw something that started the tears to flow from my eyes.
Each of the players would cross home plate one final time, and I expected them to just step on it. Most of them did, but the first player to cross home was the great Willie Mays, who played for the Mets at the end of his career. (I was there at Willie Mays night in 1973 when the Mets honored him.) I guess Willie is not in the shape he used to be, as he walked slowly and had someone to accompany him for support. Still, rather than just walk across the plate, he bent down and reverently touched his hand to the corner of the plate – like a religious pilgrim touching a sacred relic.
And that was it. I just started to cry, thinking of this man and his reverence for the game, at a time when so many players seem to think they’re bigger than the game. It also made me think of all of the times I went to see games at Shea – first with my father, who used to be a security guard there; then with friends during my high school days and later with my cousin who passed away several years ago.
Seeing this ceremony was like seeing an old friend who you know you’re seeing for the final time. At first you’re happy to see the person, but as your get-together reaches its inevitable end, you know that you’ll never see this person again and, somehow, your life will just never quite be the same.